The next morning Jenny woke up to started off quiet. Her alarm went off as usual, but it all felt weird. No one was around upstairs and there was no noise below. She called down but heard no answer. It felt ominous. Sure, everyone has those kind of days once in a while and so she continued her routine of getting ready. After finishing all that, she finally went downstairs and into the kitchen where everyone shouted, “SURPRISE!”
“What’s going on?” she asked, pleasantly astounded.
“What do you think, silly? Happy birthday!” David chimed in and gave her a hug, followed by everyone joining for a group one.
“Don’t these things normally happen at night?”
“But that’s the typical surprise party. We wanted to spice things up,” the good professor said as the teenagers guided her to the table with a cake. The cake was a typical one with the message “Happy Birthday to Our Favorite Princess, Jenny” in cursive.
The newly seventeen year-old smiled, “Thanks everyone. This means a lot, even though the message is sort of cheesy.”
“Nah, it’s frosting. Check it out!” Dyl spoke out, not resisting the urge. It certainly got the reaction with the other boys either slapping him or threatening to throw his face into the cake and everyone else laughing at the scene.
Of course, cake is not the best thing to start a day off, despite what children would argue. It had to wait until they had a more “proper” breakfast. After they had their fill of laughs and food, they began to plan their day.
“So what do you want to do today, Jenny?” Reid initialized the conversation.
“This is all nice, but don’t we have work to do?” she asked in return.
“There isn’t really anything we can do besides training, and we’ve done that for the past few days,” Emily pointed out. “And you two have done far more than that. You deserve a day off.”
“It is just as important to take a day off once in a while to rest your mind as it is to train,” Reid added in.
“So what you guys are really saying is that David and I should take the day off while you all work,” she said as a conclusion.
“Yeah, right. You’re probably sick of David by now. Such a deadbeat after all,” Nathan joked.
“I feel so flattered,” the dreamer replied sarcastically but still in good spirits.
“Besides, we also have another cause to celebrate. We took out a Daelian base yesterday,” Reid explained.
“Wow! When did that happen?” Jenny asked.
“It’s been an operation for the past few days while you and David were busy with your stuff. Emily found the base for us and we took it out yesterday.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t have me help out,” David spoke out.
“Actually, we overestimated them as it was,” Nathan explained. “Just two of us would have been okay, but we went with all four.”
“That’s impressive. Alright. How about we go to the mall?” Jenny threw out there.
The guys were not too thrilled with the idea but still replied, “If that’s what you want to do…” They were saved by Emily when she suggested, “How about we check out that new amusement park that opened up?”
“Anakoita?” Jenny thought about it for a second. “That sounds good. I hear the rides are good.”
Without much coaxing, the teens convinced the adults to let them go to the amusement park and spent the day there. Everything was good, but perhaps the most impressive thing they saw was an acrobat performance followed by a magic show. One of the most mesmerizing aspects of acrobats and magicians is how they perform with perfection what most people would consider impossible. The difference is that magicians generally utilize illusions while acrobats execute real feats. The teens had a good time, however, the excitement was just about to begin.
As they were preparing to leave, the girls waited by the entrance and the boys went to the restroom as well as picked up a couple of items. All of a sudden, a sinister figured appeared all of a sudden. It was Crawn!
A Dark Arena surrounded the park, trapping its occupants. Then, the Daelian colonel issued his warning.
“People of San Diego! There are some people among you whom I want! If you bring them to me, then no harm shall come to any of these people. They should know who they are! They attacked my comrades yesterday, and there were some unfortunate victims. Bring them so that I may administer justice for their crime! If they are not here within the next five minutes, then some of these people shall taste my power!” and with that, he fired a blast that blew up a trash can.
Jenny and Emily watched this in horror. The people began to panic, but had no idea what to do. Some started praying that Crawn’s wish be granted. Others began demanding that these people show up. And others ran, hid, or just stood frozen.
“What’s he talking about? Is it about yesterday?” the princess asked her friend.
“It can’t be. One guy escaped, but there were no casualties. The police were able to arrest some of them.”
“What should we do? Is he really going to kill someone?”
“He’s a Daelian, isn’t he? Then there’s no doubt he will.”
“But he seemed like an honorable Daelian.”
“Is there such a thing?” the orphan asked in disbelief.
“I thought so,” Jenny said worriedly.
“Well, if it comes to that, I’ll fight him myself!” Emily said affirmatively.
“But he’s too strong!” the princess protested.
“I know, but I can’t do anything. Where are those guys, anyways?” She tried calling their phones, but Dark Arena interfered with the signal.
The five minutes went up. Crawn, ready to keep his word, drew his sword. He turned around, spotted Jenny and walked towards her.
“It appears those people need to see that I am serious. You! I have nothing personal against you, so I will make this quick.”
“You won’t happen to reconsider, will you?” Jenny asked frightenedly. The Daelian shook his head and did not stop. Just then, Emily stepped in front of Jenny with her arms spread out and yelled, “Stop! Kill me instead!”
“What are you doing?!” Jenny said in a whisper.
“You’re my friend. I can’t let this guy get what he wants. Also this will build the drama until those boys finally arrive. If necessary I’ll transform.”
“Remind me to punch you later.”
That didn’t deter Emily. Instead, she proceeded to taunt Crawn saying, “So, tough guy?! What’s it going to be? Come and slay a helpless girl?”
“It makes no difference to me who dies anymore,” the yellow and black armored Neostriker replied as he continued his march. Just then a voice cried out, “CRAWN!” The Daelian turned around just in time to parry an aerial slash from Cyonex!
The other three showed up and stepped in front of the girls.
“You okay?” Shatl asked while still looking towards Crawn.
“Figured you girls would still be by the danger,” Knaidow quipped.
“Took you long enough, I’m surprised you didn’t stick your arms out and go ‘TA-DAA!’” Emily rebuked.
Meanwhile, Crawn looked at the three Neostrikers and then faced Cyonex again. In a disappointed voice he said, “So, Guardian. You joined with them, I see.”
“I see no reason not to. But I also don’t see what you mean,” he replied.
“You’re foolish if you think you can hide it. Whatever! I can deal with you here for your failure!”
“I have no need to explain to you! Now I shall destroy you and your allies!”
“Crawn, wait!” the Falcon pleaded. “If you won’t explain, then at least do me this. Duel with me one on one.”
“You will need your friends if you wish to defeat me.”
“No. I shall honor my promise with you.”
“Very well. That will let me get my revenge for your failure. I can deal with the others later.”
“What’s your plan, David? He can’t beat the four of you together.” Zel asked inside his helmet.
“I need to talk with Zack. Something is wrong here,” the youth explained to his Asen.
“Very well, I will support you in this. Just to warn you, he looks ready to use the Dark Power.”
“I understand,” David nodded. Focusing his attention back to Crawn, he pointed Sudron and said, “Crawn, I challenge you to a Nellenion Match!”
“Cyonex, what are you doing?!” Shatl called out.
“Stay back,” the Warrior of Fire put his hand out toward the three.
“Oh? Interesting. Name the terms,” the Warrior of Lightning responded.
“No Neocards. No Dark Power. Only the skills of our forms and an Elite Stone.”
“Why should I accept those terms? They favor you,” Crawn stated rightly so.
“Because I will put up three Elite Stones for yours of Lightning. I say you have more to gain. If you refuse, then I’ll give up on the idea of a duel and fight you with my friends. You cannot defeat all four of us at once, each with an Elite Stone, even with the Dark Power.”
The Daelian contemplated the terms. Then, reaching a conclusion, pointed his blade of thunder at Cyonex, with the tips meeting, and said, “I accept the challenge, Cyonex the Falcon.”
The two warriors began their fight. They started off running along the edges of the arena, gauging each other’s abilities. They then rushed in simultaneously and crossed their legendary blades. As they continued to slash at each other, Cyonex tried to reason with his revenge-set foe.
“What happened, Crawn? What is this failure you speak of?”
“You failed to protect what I entrusted to you,” the Daelian said as he delivered a powerful blow.
“What I fail to do is understand what you are talking about. I have not failed to keep my promise.”
“Don’t lie to me. I saw to the body of my sister. You failed to protect my family and now I shall have my revenge!”
The slash and parry sequence continued. After a while, they backed off and Cyonex fired a falcon’s blast but it was canceled out by Crawn’s own charged blast. They resorted back to close combat, but David would not give up reasoning.
“Crawn, your family is not dead!"
"Don't lie to me, Guardian. You failed your job and your words cannot hide it."
"What if I were to tell you the girl you almost killed was your sister?" The youth performed a one-two slash combination but it did not pierce through the Daelian’s defense.
"Then you would have dug yourself a trap, I can recognize my sister and that was not her!"
"You know dark energy has the power to corrupt your vision,"
"What I know is that people have the ability to lie and are evil, but you still insist on defending them. Perhaps I should have killed you last time!"
"Then I will defeat you and open your eyes!"
"Go ahead and try!"
Zack pushed the Guardian back against the wall but David was able to shove him back, creating some space. He jumped and back-flipped to plant his feet on the wall and then hurled himself at the Warrior of Lightning. Performing a spinning slash, the Falcon landed past Crawn. Trying to use the momentum to his advantage, the instant he landed, the youth sprung up in a spiral, but his opponent was able to block that as well.
“I’m impressed. That would have been a powerful blow,” the Daelian complemented but still forcing his own blade against Sudron.
“Tell me. You know the Dark Power is evil. Why do you fight for it?”
“The Dark Power saved my life and has granted me the power to avenge my family!” he said as he did a leaping slash.
“Did they really save your life?! Or did they just curse it?” the youth countered as he blocked and slashed past his foe, landing the first cut of the duel.
Crawn fired a charged shot, but Cyonex slashed through with Sudron to negate it and then rushed straight in to block his adversary’s follow up strike.
“Your hand is steadier than before,” the Daelian commented.
“I improved it so that I may defeat you,” the Falcon responded. He swung his steel four or five times, forcing Crawn to hold a defensive position. They backed off for a moment. Cyonex fired a falcon’s blast only to be countered by a charged shot from Crawn. They met once more at close range and entered into a frenzy, each performing beautiful swings and defensive maneuvers. No one expected the beauty they saw of the movements of the flaming sword and electrified blade. Any blow one dealt was countered equally.
“Now it’s your turn, Guardian! Why do you fight? Do you think you are a hero?! These people are not worth your protection. They will praise you for saving them one day only to hate you the next. The curses and demands for you to appear prove as much.”
“Perhaps!” David threw Zack off and readied his blade again. “But then maybe none of us deserve to live. Then again, I believe there are good people out there and everyone has the potential to do good. I’m not a judge, so I’ll fight for all!”
“You’re an idealist.”
“It comes with the job,” the youth smiled and then charged back in to fight. Here, the Daelian thought himself to be prepared, but was surprised when the Falcon reached him faster than expected. David used this surprise toward his gain and was able to get a nick through within his flurry of slashes. They made space again and began to carefully analyze each other.
“So that was the legendary Mode Change,” Crawn observed. “No difference in your appearance but it increased your speed far more than I would have thought.”
“That’s because I had been in Defense mode the entire time,” the Cyonex smirked.
“I see. While it raises your defense stats to lessen the damage, it also slowed down your step. Then you proceeded to get me used to it. Perhaps the Fox is more suitable a title after all. But it won’t work again.”
“I wouldn’t expect it to.”
The Falcon makes a leaping slash, but before he was about to land, he used his jetpack to boost to alter the speed of his descent but it did not throw off Crawn’s timing. He warded off the attack.
They continue to fight with various moves and tactics. Blasts would be fired and either blocked, negated, or miss. Eventually they gave up on the idea and resorted to pure sword fighting. They would cross and clash again and again, sparks flying, but neither could get a strike through. The duel could go on almost forever, not that the audience minded. They had gotten so into the fight, they didn’t care to know why or how the fight began. It became such a spectacle, that the audience grew substantially. Finally, the two warriors broke up and reach a stand still.
“I have to say, I’m impressed how much you’ve improved in so little time, Guardian. You really are my equal now.”
“I must admit, I’m enjoying this duel profoundly.”
“The feeling’s mutual. But I won’t let that deter me from my purpose. This needs to end now!”
“Then we’ve got one thing left. I challenge you with my ultimate weapon, the Elite Slash!”
“I’ll take the challenge. The Elite Slash it is!”
“Come on, Zel. We can’t fail here!”
“Right! Let’s do this! Full Power,” the Asen agreed.
A scarlet aura encased Cyonex as a blue and white one surrounded Crawn. They posed ready to pounce. They made it quick. Within the next instant, they had switched spots with their swords swung. The next thing anyone knew was that Crawn was de-formed and falls to the ground! The Nellenion match was over.
As Crawn de-formed, he stood facing toward the girls. Jenny was able to see his face and was astonished. Not heeding their calls, she ran past her friends and to her fallen brother and embraced him, calling his name gently and with tears in her eyes.
Zack opened his eyes and saw his sister’s face. “Jenny,” he said. “You are alive after all.” Her touch had cured him of the dark energy, though no one knew it at the time.
David walked over and the fallen Daelian thanked him. “You were right. I was a fool. Thank you for stopping me.”
“I just kept my promise,” the Guardian assured him. Jenny gave him a look that said, “You knew?!” but it did not faze either of the swordsmen.
“I’m impressed by your last move there,” Zack praised him. “You switched modes again and, with the very little time you gained, ducked beneath my slash, only to hit me on the rise.”
“Probably couldn’t pull it off again.”
By then the police had arrived. They took Zack into custody and proceeded to take him away. But first, Cyonex reminded him of the deal and Zack handed him the Elite Stone of Lightning.
The police and the crowd wanted to get to Cyonex and the others, but, using the smoke screen neocard, they were able to escape. They actually did so by deforming within the smoke and then pretending to be some of the crowd trying to get closer. And with that, their day at the park ended with David giving Jenny perhaps the gift she wanted most.
Episode 20: Ensis Angeli